Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 13, 2015

Amazon’s latest free app blowout gives away $140 in paid Android apps;  1 billion records were compromised by data breaches in 2014;  8 essential Microsoft business apps for Android phones;  You’re Going To Die. First, Choose Someone To Manage Your Facebook ;  10 Apps That Are Changing Healthcare;  VirusTotal tackles the tricky false positives problem;  Cut the hassle of scheduling meetings with these 4 tools;  Pinterest is reportedly adding a ‘buy’ button;  16 million mobile devices infected by malware;  How to connect your laptop to your HDTV without HDMI;  This is the first video game I’ll let my daughter play;  Sony releases a massive list of games scheduled for 2015;  Avira Free Antivirus 15.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Nearly 1 billion records were compromised by data breaches in 2014 – There were over 1,500 data breaches compromising nearly 1 billion data records in 2014, according to a report from the security firm Gemalto. The report, which was first spotted by The Wall Street Journal, shows 54 percent of the data breaches were related to identity theft — up from 23 percent last year — surprisingly outpacing attacks for access to financial information, which only accounted for 17 percent of the breaches in 2014. Overall, data breaches increased by 49 percent from 2013, and compromised data records jumped 78 percent in the same time frame. The decrease in bank and credit card breaches and the increase in identity theft is not a good sign, but probably an inevitable outcome.

Amazon’s latest free app blowout gives away $140 in paid Android apps – Amazon’s firing up the blue light again, and this it’s time giving away $140 worth of paid Android apps and games. The ad-free version of the red hot Trivia Crack is free, and normally costs $2.99. Another good deal is OfficeSuite Professional, an app that edits Word, Excel, and PowerPoint compatible files and typically is $20. While Office for Android tablets is finally here and rather solid, it can’t hurt to check out this longstanding editing suite. Longtime favorite Doodle Jump and fitness app Runtastic Pro also can be yours at no cost. 80 Days, the utterly wonderful mobile game that took the world by storm last year, is also available as a gratis download. Head to the Amazon Appstore page and start claiming any freebies that catch your eye. They’re available through February 14. Here’s the full list of freebies:

You’re Going To Die. First, Choose Someone To Manage Your Facebook Profile – Now you can give someone power of attorney over your digital life. Today Facebook began letting users select a “legacy contact” who can partially control their Facebook profile after they die. Legacy Contact_ChoosePreviously when you bit the dust, your friends could notify Facebook to lock your profile into a memorial page. But now if you’ve set a legacy contact, that person can pin an announcement to the top of your profile to provide details for memorial services, approve friend requests and change their profile and cover photo.

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8 essential Microsoft business apps for Android phones – Who’s the busiest developer on Android these days? Some of the most impressive business apps are coming from an unlikely source, with Microsoft’s business apps appearing on the Google Play Store and getting rave reviews.

Sling TV app heads to Amazon’s Fire TV with deep device discounts in tow – Sling TV has been promising an app for Amazon’s Fire TV since last month, and now it’s arrived with some big sign-up incentives. In exchange for three months of prepaid Sling TV service at $20 per month, you can either get a free Fire TV Stick (regularly $39) or $50 off the Fire TV set-top box (regularly $99). If you already have the hardware, Sling says you can download the app and get “a special Amazon offer for Sling TV.”

Pinterest is reportedly adding a ‘buy’ button – Pinterest is planning to introduce a “buy” button that would let users purchase some items from inside the online scrapbooking service, Recode reports. The button will apparently allow users to order and pay for goods pinned to Pinterest boards without leaving the company’s app or website, a feature that could turn Pinterest into an online shopping powerhouse. Recode’s sources say the feature could launch in three to six months, but also noted that it may take a little longer, or roll out first in a limited trial.

Cops flood Waze with fake police sightings – A lot of navigation apps dot the app stores, but Waze stands out of among them for one particular reason: it lets users know when a cop has been spotted in any particular region. Though not always accurate, this has been a favorite feature among users, and an excellent way to help avoid getting a speeding ticket. As you might have heard, though, law enforcement isn’t so happy about the feature, going so far as requesting that Google/Waze eliminate the feature in the name of officer safety. That request didn’t pan out, and now officers are using a different tactic.

Qualcomm’s Chromecast-killer is the dongle your TV wants – The competition for a place in one of your TV’s HDMI ports looks set to get fiercer, with Qualcomm showing off its take on the streaming adapter, a Snapdragon-based mini Android computer smaller than a box of matches. Dubbed the Qualcomm 4K Streaming Adapter, the bright red box – currently a working reference design – squeezes what’s effectively a full Android smartphone, albeit without the touchscreen and battery, into a plug-and-play dongle for your home entertainment needs. While we’ve seen streaming sticks before, what we haven’t seen is such a comprehensive range of wireless options: everything from the latest WiFi, though to LTE Broadcast support, and more.

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How to connect your laptop to your HDTV without HDMI – You can have an Internet-ready smart TV with a Roku plugged into it, and at some point you’ll want to watch something that neither of them support. (For me, it’s password-protected Vimeo streams.) That’s when you need to plug your laptop directly into your HDTV. If your laptop lacks an HDMI port, connecting it to a TV isn’t so easy. But it isn’t incredibly difficult either. It’s all a matter of figuring out which ports you do have and which adapters you need.

CliniCloud’s Smart Stethoscope And Thermometer Let Doctors Check Your Vitals From The Cloud – We are getting that much closer to building the doctor’s office of the future right within our homes today. Digital health diagnostic tools startup CliniCloud has launched a line of Bluetooth-connected stethoscopes and thermometers that enable consumers to check their own vitals and have a doctor access them via the cloud. These digital devices can track things like your temperature and heart rate and send a history of the recordings to an on-demand physician. The physician can then give a diagnosis without patients having to leave their homes.

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10 Apps That Are Changing Healthcare – Hiking deep in the woods, you scratch your leg and notice you’ve been bitten by, well, something, but you don’t know what. Swelling and a rash are setting in. Or maybe you’re house-bound for three days due to a bad storm. The roads are closed except for emergencies, and your baby’s cough is getting worse. What do you do? With today’s technology, you can see a doctor immediately in both of those scenarios, and in some cases even have the doctor prescribe medication, from your smartphone, no matter where you are. Telemedicine and telehealth apps are dramatically making healthcare more convenient, less expensive, more preventative, and in many cases downright better. The ten apps in this article are all excellent examples.

Parallels Desktop 10 now makes it easy for Mac users to download and run Windows 10 (for free) – Summary:An update to Parallels Desktop 10 now makes it easy for Mac users to run the Windows 10 Technical Preview, along with the Office Preview for Windows 10.

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Desktop Parallels 10

The top 5 reasons why Google Hangouts never works – To be fair to Google Hangouts, Skype has its problems, too. But it’s Google Hangouts that PCWorld’s editors have, for several years, tried and largely failed to use for staff meetings with remote users. Just when we think we’ve figured out all the kinks, something else goes awry. So we feel our readers’ pain on this one, and that’s why we asked videoconferencing expert Christopher Null how to cure five of its most notable headaches.

Darkroom for iOS may just be the best photo editor around – Editing photos on iOS isn’t difficult, and iOS 8 brought some native tweaks to make editing your pictures much easier. Still, some want more, or at least something different. There are plenty of apps out there that can deliver really solid photo editing, but the latest, Darkroom, might just be the best yet. It’s a little bit Photoshop, a lot customizable, and free (with an in-app purchase available). Darkroom even lets you create your own custom filters, should you always find yourself going a particular direction with your edits.

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Bizdaq Lets You Buy Or Sell Small And Medium-Sized Businesses – Aiming to disrupt the traditional ‘business transfer market’, the platform lets those with an existing small to medium-sized business sell to those seeking to own one of their own. These range from coffee shops to hairdressers, or any type of small business, including startups. In some ways, it’s similar to the way online estate agents (or realtors) are attacking the traditional house buying market, by not only moving most of the process online, but also in terms of cost. Bizdaq charges a monthly subscription to business owners who want to list their business for sale. This is in sharp contrast to 15 per cent commission and, sometimes, 12 month contracts that traditional brokerage companies operate.

Facebook’s App Now Makes Addictive/Annoying Little *POP* Sounds – *Zing* *Shring* *Bloop* No, these aren’t comic book fight sounds. They’re the new noises Facebook’s app makes as you navigate. The idea seems to be that these little tones will make browsing Facebook more fun and subtly convince you to use the app more. It might now seem like a big deal, but any game designer can tell you how important sounds are to creating an immersive, addictive experience. It’s the reason most freemium social games are filled with encouraging noises designed to make you feel good about yourself as you spend money on virtual cows.

Cut the hassle of scheduling meetings with these 4 tools – If you’re like me, you spend way too much time scheduling meetings. It’s a necessary evil, but maybe it doesn’t have to be so time consuming. Here are four tools to help you set your meetings up more efficiently.

5 Data-Backed Tips to Boost Your Online Dating Game – Changing just one character can increase your response rate 79%

Security:

16 million mobile devices infected by malware – Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Security Labs estimates 16 million mobile devices worldwide have been infected by malware – used by cybercriminals for corporate and personal espionage, information theft, Denial of Service attacks on businesses and governments, and banking and advertising scams. The report also found that consumers who avoid shopping online out of fear their credit or debit card information may be stolen are actually exposing themselves to greater risk: a rash of retail cyber-security breaches in 2014 were all the result of malware infections on cash registers or point-of-sale terminals, not online stores. This is largely because stolen cards from online retailers are not as valuable to criminals because they can only be used for online purchases.

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Apple now protects FaceTime and iMessage with two-step verification – Apple’s two-step login security is now keeping hackers away from some of the company’s popular services — not just iCloud. iMessage and FaceTime both take advantage of the added verification measure, which requires users to enter a unique code in addition to the regular account password before they’re able to send messages or launch a video chat. The Guardian first reported Apple’s latest expansion of two-step verification.

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Mozilla reveals Firefox add-on lockdown – Mozilla yesterday detailed plans to require Firefox add-ons to be digitally signed, a move meant to bear down on rogue and malicious extensions, and one that resembled Google’s decision years ago to secure Chrome’s add-on ecosystem. Some Firefox users called out Mozilla for disregarding its own long-and-often-expressed ethos of the need for an open Internet.

This Facebook Bug Allowed Anyone To Delete Your Photos – How many photos do you have on Facebook? How many of those are photos you never thought to back up? This just-disclosed Facebook bug would have allowed for anyone with a bit of technical know-how to delete any photo on Facebook. Fortunately, the guy who discovered the bug (Laxman Muthiyah of India) was quick to give Facebook a heads up — and for his troubles, he got a $12,500 bounty.

Jeb Bush’s privacy-shattering email cache hid another surprise: Viruses – In addition to personal phone numbers and email addresses for hundreds of people who corresponded with him, there’s something else inside the cache of emails that Jeb Bush released this week: computer viruses. Many are old and easily detectable with modern anti-virus software, but they still might pose a threat to some people running older computers or without anti-virus software.

VirusTotal tackles the tricky false positives problem plaguing antivirus software – VirusTotal, a Google-owned online malware scanning service, is creating a whitelist of products from large software vendors to reduce bad detections by antivirus programs. False positive detections are common in the antivirus industry. They occur when a benign program is wrongfully flagged as malicious due to an overly broad detection signature or algorithm used in an antivirus product. VirusTotal, which scans suspicious files uploaded by users with products from 48 antivirus vendors, invited large software makers Tuesday to add metadata about their products’ files to a new database maintained by the company.

Company News:

AMD stops shipping chips as bloated channel begs ‘Please, no more’ – Beleaguered chip underdog AMD is not shipping any new gear to channels this quarter as it bites the bullet to clear existing stock swilling around the industry, estimated to have been in excess of $100m. A combination of bad forecasting, sliding PC demand and weak supply chain controls led to the inventory nightmare, and channel partners are complaining that broker activity means prices remain unstable. Things came to a head in calendar Q4 when AMD decided to confront the problem head on, sucking down a $58m charge enabling it to “lower [the] cost of market inventory adjustment”.

Qualcomm’s regulatory woes may be adding up – Just as it settled a major investigation in China, Qualcomm may be facing even more regulatory problems. South Korean competition regulators are starting to investigate Qualcomm’s business practices there, several news sources reported, citing unnamed sources. This information comes just days after the chipmaker on Monday agreed to pay a record $975 million fine in China for alleged monopolistic practices.

Expedia to buy Orbitz for $1.6 billion – Cheaper air travel is making the world seem smaller — and that’s increasingly the case for the online booking market too, with Expedia planning to swallow up rival Orbitz Worldwide barely a month after buying the smaller Travelocity. For Expedia, the acquisition is primarily about growing its customer base: The companies offer similar services in overlapping markets. Orbitz also operates “white label” travel booking services for airlines and bank loyalty programs through its Orbitz Partner Network. Orbitz directors have advised stockholders to accept Expedia’s offer of $12 per share, which values the company at around $1.6 billion.

Zynga Drops 9% After Its $192M Q4 Revenue And Guidance Disappoint – Investors had expected the company to earn $0.00 on revenue of $201.11 million. The firm also reported bookings in the quarter of $182.4 million. The company’s flat earnings per share is based on adjusted profit. Using normally accepted accounting methods, Zynga lost $45.13 million, or $0.05 per share. In the year-ago period, Zynga had revenue of $176.36 million, on which it lost $25.24 million, or $0.03 cents per share. So, Zynga grew its revenue by just over 9 percent in the last year. Zynga announced in its earnings that it will close its games studio in China, impacting 71 employees. The company anticipates savings of $7 million per year

China’s Xiaomi takes first step into U.S. market – The biggest Android smartphone maker most Americans have probably never heard of is taking its first step into the U.S. Market. Xiaomi, which in just four years has gone from nothing to leading the Chinese market, will launch a U.S. version of its online shopping site later this year but it won’t sell the low-cost, high-spec phones for which the company has gained its reputation. Instead, it will sell a selection of phone accessories like battery packs and headphones. That doesn’t mean a U.S. launch of its phones has been ruled out, however.

Lyft said to be in talks for funding with $2B valuation – Lyft is said to be looking for new funding as it challenges its better-financed rival Uber in the car-for-hire race. Lyft is in discussions to raise $250 million, and maybe as much as $500 million, for a valuation of at least $2 billion, according to the New York Times. If the round closes, it would be the second funding round in less than a year for the 3-year-old startup and help it close the gap on Uber’s funding lead.

Games and Entertainment:

This is the first video game I’ll let my daughter play: Metamorphabet might just be the perfect introduction to touchscreens – The concept of Metamorphabet is exceedingly simple. You go through the alphabet one letter at a time, tapping on a letter will cause it to animate in different ways. Tap the big green A once and it grows antlers, tap it again and it morphs into an arch. Once more and that arch starts to amble along, before moving you on to the letter B. The interactions and animations are charming and intuitive: it’s fun just to watch things happen. A soothing voice says the new words and letters as they appear on screen.

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Introducing Freeview Play, a new connected TV platform from the UK’s top broadcasters – Satellite TV service Sky and cable giant Virgin Media lead the way in offering pay-TV services to UK consumers, but the nation’s most-watched TV service is still Freeview. The digital terrestrial service is completely free, and offers 60 TV channels, with 12 HD channels, and 25 radio stations – and it’s now expanding its offering beyond live broadcasts to on-demand viewing. Today, Freeview unveiled an updated brand identity, which coincides with the announcement of Freeview Play, a new connected TV service from the UK’s leading broadcasters – the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, and even Sky – and broadcast solutions provider Arqiva.

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James Franco will star in Hulu’s new time-travel show from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams – James Franco has signed on to star in 11/22/63, a time-travel miniseries that’s shaping up to be Hulu’s highest-profile show yet. The show is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, and it’s being adapted for Hulu by J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot. King and Abrams are executive producers of the show.

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Sony releases a massive list of games scheduled for 2015 – Sony has just released a massive list of the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita games scheduled for 2015 including games with confirmed release dates and games with launch dates which are yet to be announced.

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Browsing the Twisted World of Online Porn Games – Sex in video games, as has been pointed out extensively, doesn’t really work. There’s a lot of waiting around, the graphics aren’t really there yet, and the only console with a one-handed controller is exclusively for children. Nope, if you’re looking to combine sex and gaming—and as a species, we’re apparently persisting with this—a much more logical place to start would be the world of internet browser games. Quick and to the point, usually demanding nothing more of you than a mouse hand, and you’re only a click away from actual, proper porn if needs be. So, have any of the limitless nerds making cheap, casual, online games cracked the code? I had a good, long, not-especially-hard look, and below is what’s available.

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LEGO bringing 32 new Star Wars sets for 2015 – LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens will be just one piece of the puzzle this year. The biggest toy company in the world has released notes at NYC’s Toy Fair on their 2015 line of Star Wars sets, with LEGO bricks ranging from Star Wars Rebels through to the prequels and back to Star Wars Rebels. In all, LEGO has announced that 32 new sets will be coming to their Star Wars collection – and that’s just so far. There may well be more up their sleeve.

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‘Sunless Sea’ Is the First Essential Video Game of 2015 – Victorian London has been pulled underground, and now lies just downstream from Hell. Surrounding it is an endless, black expanse of water called the Broad Unterzee, and as a ship captain, it’s your job to explore it. This is the bizarre premise of Sunless Sea, a Lovecraft-inspired nautical RPG with a heavy emphasis on exploration and storytelling that’s just been released for Mac and PC by Failbetter Games. It’s a wonderfully original setting for some complex storytelling, and it might just be considered this year’s first essential release.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch: China has made an internet censorship THEME SONG: Never has repression sounded so good – Creating patriotic songs is an age-old solution to difficult problems, albeit one that is out of fashion in the Western world. Not so in China, which has just released a tremendous rousing tribute to its clean, clear and incorruptible internet. The song is performed by the Cyberspace Administration of China choral group, otherwise known as the people who censor the internet inside China and remove any mention of things like the Tiananmen Square massacre or Falun Gong. Called Cyberspace Spirit, the bombastic tune features a large mixed choir and four solo singers who regale an audience with their song while informing them that they are also keeping a close eye on everything they view and type.

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YouTube porn filters versus Irish Gaelic; luck of the Irish wins – It’s a well known fact that pornography on YouTube is strictly forbidden, with the exception of educational and “art house” type movies being the (for investigative purposes researched!) exception to the rule, and even then, you must be logged in, confirmed to be over 18 and have the “family filter” disabled to view them. YouTube uses an algorithm for uploaded content as a first defense, with other levels relying on user reports for any breaches of this rule. However, it would appear that the Irish (Gaelic) language wasn’t included in those filters, as one YouTube user, using an Asian woman for an avatar discovered. The user was able to upload at least twenty pornographic videos that went unmonitored for “months” before being reported and pulled.

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Bystander’s video shows cops shooting, killing fleeing man – The video, which sparked protests, shows police firing at the man then chasing him across a busy intersection and shooting him multiple more times. About a dozen shots were fired, according to the video. The video is among a recent wave of footage uploaded to YouTube capturing police-involved shootings. The videos have come from a variety of sources, taken by bystanders and police officer dash or body cams.

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Cracked: 18 Horrifying Things Hidden in the Fine Print

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Pointing up    Just one of a number of pointed examples, in this humourous article, as to why it’s necessary to read a EULA. It’s easily overshadowed by the following, in which the intent is quite clear.

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Which Drugs Are the Deadliest to Drive On? – This month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report (pdf) called “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk” that took a look at how often illegal drugs cause car accidents. In a finding that should surprise nobody, researchers found that people who used drugs were more likely to crash. “However,” they added, “analyses incorporating adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, and alcohol concentration level did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs.” In layman’s terms, that means that you’re not statistically more likely to get into a wreck if you’re on drugs—but it’s possible that if you’re driving on drugs you’ll also be drunk, or simply young and making bad decisions, which increases your chances of bending your vehicle around a telephone pole.

Something to think about:

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”

–      Sir Winston Churchill

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avira Free Antivirus 15.0.8.624 – Avira AntiVir Personal FREE Antivirus was developed to be a reliable free antivirus solution, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system and reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection to home-users, for personal use only, and is not for business or commercial use.

Avira AntiVir Personal gives you the following functions:

Control Center for monitoring, administering and controlling the entire program

Central configuration with user-friendly standard and advanced options and context-sensitive help

Scanner (On-Demand Scan) with profile-controlled and configurable search for all known types of virus and malware

Integration into the Windows Vista User Account Control allows you to carry out tasks requiring administrator rights

Guard (On-Access Scan) for continuous monitoring of all file access attempts

Integrated quarantine management to isolate and process suspicious files

Rootkit protection for detecting hidden malware installed in your computer system (rootkits) (Only for 32-bit systems)

Direct access to detailed information on the detected viruses and malware via the Internet

Simple and quick updates to the program, virus definitions, and search engine through Single File Update and incremental VDF updates via a webserver on the Internet

Integrated Scheduler to plan one-off or recurring tasks, such as updates or test runs

Very high rates of virus and malware detection using innovative search technologies (search engines) and heuristic search processes

Detection of all common archive types, including detection of nested archives and smart extensions

High-performance multithreading function (simultaneous high-speed scanning of multiple files)

Features:

AntiVir protection against viruses, worms and Trojans AntiDialer protection against expensive dialers

AntiRootkit protection against hidden rootkits

Faster Scanning up to 20% faster

AntiPhishing protection against phishing

AntiSpyware protection against spyware and adware NetbookSupport for laptops with low resolution

QuickRemoval eliminates viruses at the push of a button

Limitations: Avira AntiVir Personal is free for personal use only.

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Windows USB Blocker – Windows USB Blocker will quickly block or unblock USB storage devices on any Windows system.

USB devices are one of the primary causes for spreading virus/malware from one system to another without the user knowledge. Often it is risky to allow others to insert USB stick (often infected with virus) into your system. Hence it is always advised to disable USB when you are not around.

In such cases, Windows USB Blocker tool will help you to instantly block USB and safeguard your system from these viruses.

Beauty of this tool is that it will block only USB Storage devices like USB Sticks or Portable Disks. However normal USB devices like wireless keyboard/mouse plugs, bluetooth/wireless/internet dongles will continue to work without any problem.

It has cool GUI interface and very simple to use for everyone. With just one click you can instantly Block or Unblock USB on your system and it is fully portable.

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Disk Savvy – DiskSavvy is a straight-forward HDD space analyzer utility that will enable you to analyze your disk usage usage for multiple directories, network shares or NAS storage devices.

DiskSavvy provides multiple disk usage analysis capabilities, built-in file copy, move and delete features and user-defined profiles.

Features:

Maximum Number of Files – 100,000

Maximum Storage Capacity – 1 TB

Maximum Number of Profiles – 3

Support for Long File Names

Support for Unicode File Names

Support for UNC Network Path Names

Built-In File Management Operations

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI Director Defends Police, Says Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist – FBI Director James Comey repeatedly defended the police in a speech intended to address race relations after a series of high profile killings by law enforcement officers.

Speaking at Georgetown University this morning, Comey said citizens need to have more empathy for police, that police response time is not influenced by race, and that “law enforcement is not the root cause of problems in our hardest hit neighborhoods.”

Comey also cited and quoted from the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from the Broadway play Avenue Q, adding that, while everyone has a duty to try and overcome bias, “racial bias isn’t epidemic in those who join law enforcement any more than it is epidemic in academia or the arts.” And yet “after years of police work, officers often can’t help but be influenced by the cynicism they feel” and begin viewing black citizens differently.

The much-anticipated address comes in the wake of a series of killings of black citizens at the hands of local police, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio. Video of the speech is available here, and the prepared, written version of the remarks here.

Pointing up    Yeah, that’s it! Push forward the “but everybody is doing it Mom” argument.

As White House bangs cybersecurity drum, Silicon Valley chiefs decide not to turn up – Chief executives from four major technology companies will not attend a cybersecurity summit in California on Friday, despite being invited long ahead of time.

Instead, senior security staffers from the invited companies, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, will go in their boss’ places.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook did accept the invitation, however, along with others, notably Mastercard’s Ajay Banga and Symantec’s Michael Brown.

Speculation is rife as to why Marissa Mayer, Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, Satya Nadella, and Mark Zuckerberg declined the invitation to attend the cybersecurity summit at Stanford University.

U.S. Drops to 49th in World Press Freedom Rankings, Worst Since Obama Became President – Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th.

That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.

Proposed bill limits reach of US search warrants on overseas servers – The Obama administration says that companies operating in the US must comply with US search warrants for data when that data is stored on overseas servers.

It’s a longstanding position of global supremacy, and one that would have to change if legislation proposed Thursday becomes law.

The legislation, the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (PDF), is directed at a federal court’s July ruling requiring Microsoft to turn over e-mails stored on its Irish servers to assist a Department of Justice drug investigation.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the measure he is co-sponsoring would “promote international comity and law enforcement cooperation.” Microsoft said the legislation was “common sense” and a “very important step.”

The bill would require companies based in the US to turn over data stored on its overseas servers only if the warrant targets a “US person.” The legislation does not alter the law requiring US industry—when presented with a warrant—to hand over data stored on US servers no matter the target’s nationality.

The measure also requires a court to modify or vacate a warrant if a company makes a motion to the court and the court finds that the warrant would require the provider to violate the laws of a foreign country.

Lawmakers introduce two bills to protect email privacy – A long-standing effort to extend privacy protections to email and other data in the cloud got new life Thursday when U.S. lawmakers introduced not one, but two bills to reform the country’s electronic privacy laws.

Both the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act, called the LEADS Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act would require law enforcement agencies to get court-ordered warrants to search data that’s been stored on Web-based or cloud-based services for more than 180 days.

Under the 29-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act [ECPA], law enforcement agencies do not need a court-ordered warrant to search unopened e-mail stored with a vendor for longer than 180 days, although they do need court approval to access unopened e-mail less than 180 days old.

Several tech vendors and digital rights groups have been pushing for ECPA reform since early 2010, but Congress has failed to act. In an era of cloud computing, it doesn’t make sense for data stored past six months to have fewer legal protections than other personal data, backers of ECPA reform say.

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6 Comments

Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 13, 2015

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill!
    “U.S. Drops to 49th in World Press Freedom Rankings, Worst Since Obama Became President”
    He is in my estimation as bad a president as the USA has ever had, if not the worst, but we’ve had a long list of bad Presidents.
    Here is the Dictator’s assault on internet privacy and freedom:
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/64842466-b2b2-11e4-a058-00144feab7de.html
    I sure as heck hope that the American people will wake up!
    At least readers of this site get important information about liberty and fight to keep what little we have left.
    With best wishes always,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      Agreed – Obama is a waffling shrinking violet who lacks moral courage. Time to clone Dwight Eisenhower? 🙂

      Thanks for the link. Hope you had a great weekend.

      BTW – Happy Presidents’ Day.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. DAve Revie

    I just got a phising email. from irs supposedly/:Unfortunately, an issue with your federal return has caused it to be rejected by the IRS. Until you review your return and make the necessary corrections, any refund headed your way (or money you owe) will remain unprocessed.

    Follow the instructions to make the necessary changes, then resubmit your return: You might want to warn readers.
    I dont file with irs my income is to low.
    DAve